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How To Deal With Family Who Don’t Support Your Goals

by Leanne Hall
Posted: July 21, 2016

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Most of us have been there at some point. A close friend or family member seems to think they know you better than you know yourself, writes Clinical Psychologist and mind and body expert, Leanne Hall

And let’s face it, sometimes they may have a point. Not that we like to admit it, right? But there’s nothing more frustrating than when you’re really passionate about something BIG and they just don’t seem to get it! 

Let's take career choice for example.Why do you want to study THAT?”, or “I thought (insert opinion) would be a much better fit for you?”, or “But there aren’t any jobs in that area though?” 

These are just some of the questions that well-meaning friends and family can throw at you when you disclose to them (often rather excitedly) your chosen career path. Now more often than not, the intention is good. Very rarely, it hides an alternative motive or intention. 

In these cases, your gut will let you know. For example, it may be a pattern with a particular person (they constantly judge you or pull you down), or you may know for a fact that THEY are miserable or unhappy in their chosen career. Perhaps they are just a tad jealous? 

However, in MOST cases it’s about two things:

  1. Lack of knowledge 
  2. Fear/concern (usually because of number 1!) 

So here are 5 tips on how to deal with family and friends, no matter how well-meaning they may be, who may initially not support your career goals.

1.    Make sure you educate them about your choice

How to deal with family who don't support your goals, mother and daughter

Give them the relevant information. Sometimes you may be able to anticipate what someone might say. For example it’s a common “parent thing” to worry about “jobs” at the end of any study program. 

So do some research, and give them some stats. This will also reassure them that you have put lots of thought into your decision.

2.    Talk to them

Listen to their concerns. You may not agree with them, but give them the opportunity to tell you their concerns. Instead of getting defensive, try to see it from their point of view. 

3.    Enlist the help of support

How to handle people - supportive careers counsellor

If you anticipate World War III, enlist the help of a support person, such as a careers advisor, school teacher, or family friend. 

4.    Give them time

An initial reaction is just that. A reaction. Often fuelled by fear and/or concern. Let the dust settle before you make another attempt, and/or try giving them more information.

5.    ALWAYS remember: You cannot please everyone! 

At the end of the day, you need to make the right decision for you. Sometimes this means investing in people who support your decisions as opposed to trying to convince those who don’t. 

Also remember that nothing is set in stone – and changing your career path is not only extremely normal, but sometimes necessary. After all, how do you really know it’s the right path until you’re on it? 

Most study programs allow you to make changes, and change direction. So never be afraid to change your mind, and keep your options wide open at all times!

Want to be inspired by more life advice from other Life Coaches, Psychologists and Counsellors, like Leanne? Read more thoughts for better living here.


Leanne Hall

Leanne has been transforming lives for over 15 years as the mind and body expert for Channel 10 and as a practising clinical psychologist. Leanne Hall motivates her patients to achieve a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle using positive psychology and “mindfulness” techniques, holistic nutrition and exercise. Leanne's expertise covers everything from how the beauty myth impacts women's self-esteem, mental health and fitness.

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